Group warns of sites offering unlicensed music

CDT publishes a list of MP3 sites that may offer unlicensed music.

People who received MP3 players as holiday gifts may want to steer clear of some Web sites that claim to offer legal music but don't have licensing agreements with major music labels, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) said.

CDT, a consumer rights group, has published a listof more than 30 MP3 download sites that don't have licensing deals with major U.S. music labels. The sites, which charge between US$20 and $35 for subscriptions, say they offer music from artists signed to the major labels, CDT said.

Consumers should be aware of the sites on the list, because, in some cases, they may simply provide subscribers popular peer-to-peer (P-to-P) software that's otherwise free, said David Sohn, CDT's senior policy counsel. And customers using P-to-P software to trade unauthorized music files could face lawsuits from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), he said.

"People might get the false impression of what they paid for was legal," Sohn said. "If you pay US$25, you might think that US$25 goes to compensate the rights holder."

The CDT tried to contact the operators of each site on its MP3 warning list. In each case, the site operators did not respond.

Several of the sites on the list seem to be run by the same people -- they have similar designs and make similar claims. In many cases, the sites are registered outside the U.S., Sohn said.

Some of the sites hedge their claims of being legal in small print. For example, AllCoolMusic.com, which says it offers 12 billion files, includes a disclaimer at the bottom of its front page: "Today, there are 240 million users trading MP3s on legal file-sharing networks. Sharing is not illegal as long as you obey all relevant copyright laws. Sharing copyrighted material, without permission to do so, is illegal. Purchasing a membership in AllCoolMusic.com does not give you license to download or upload copyrighted material. AllCoolMusic.com implores you to respect all copyright laws."

AllCoolMusic didn't respond to CDT's letter, and there's no contact information readily available on the site.

In March 2005, CDT filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission against two Web sites claiming their music and video downloads were 100 percent legal.

The FTC filed a complaint in U.S. court against one of the Web sites, mp3downloadcity.com, obtained an injunction, and eventually reached a settlement with the Web site operator in May 2006. The settlement required the site to refund customers.

The RIAA has focused its lawsuits on P-to-P users that share music with others, not those that simply download music from P-to-P networks. However, if subscribers to these sites would opt to share their music on the P-to-P software some of the sites provide, that could expose them to lawsuits, Sohn said.

In many cases, users of the sites are "getting less than you pay for," he said.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?